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Monday Morning Quarterback: The End Zone Dance!


What we do pales in comparison to how we do it regardless of what it is we choose to do.

Greetings from the heart of NYC, where I've returned after a west coast business trip and some academic vibe time upstate. Speaking with Syracuse students was my distinct pleasure as we do our part to affect positive change. Indeed, as we waffle through this complicated conundrum, "a trusted choice for the financial voice" has perhaps never been a more acute societal need.

We often say what we do pales in comparison to how we do it regardless of what it is we choose to do. While my take on the tape is sometimes wrong and often early, it's always honest and shared through the lens of what I'm doing, why I'm doing it and how it's being done. I can't offer blanket advice for I don't know the time horizon and risk profile of our faceless audience. What's good for my goose doesn't always fit with those that gander.

This approach was anathema during the era of conspicuous consumption but we hope it paves the way to better days as we edge into the age of austerity. That's not to say we don't take pride in being right; you wouldn't be reading this if it were void of intellectual agility or insightful acumen. The simple truth is that it's tough out there; there's no shame in admitting it's hard, there's only shame in pretending it's not.

After a prolonged period of seeing the ball-before the crisis, during the crash, into the lows and having mapped the summer trading range-I was entirely too cautious the last few months with the benefit of hindsight. While I understood the denial-migration-panic continuum and the fear-greed pendulum, I failed to anticipate the voracity of risk appetites or the elasticity of government debt.

Mea culpa and hand raised; it happens to the best of us. We don't hide from our mistakes in the 'Ville, we learn from them and do so with steadfast humility.

I offer that with a nod to the bovine bravado currently making the rounds. While in my hotel room last Wednesday readying for a meeting, I overheard someone on financial television say those missing the rally were "idiots." I couldn't help but shake my head in disgust. It had little to do with my personal performance and everything to do with the mindless arrogance that got our society into so much trouble in the first place.

As traders, the destination we arrive at pales in comparison to the path we take to get there. Fair enough and true dat; this rally has been one for the ages.

Before we get caught up in name calling and victory laps, however, I would remind this gentleman that the S&P is 30-something percent lower over the last two years and swallowing double-digit losses this past decade despite the 38% drop in the dollar index. That screams of a cyclical rally in a secular bear no matter how you slice it and it's most certainly not the stuff of "I told you so's."

My goal here isn't to post-rationalize or defend a bent; I learned long ago to look at where we're going rather than where we've been. I'm simply sharing some perspective for those looking to put corks on their forks. While I can beat myself up with the best of them, all we can do is the best we can do and adapt (rather than conform) as we together find our way.

Stay humble, my friends, or the market will do it for you. That goes for bulls, bears, chickens and pigs alike.

Some top-line vibes on a Monday morning:

  • We've been talking about S&P 1120ish for months and it's coming up quick. Again, it's the downtrend line from the 2007 top and a 50% retracement of the entire decline. See it, even if you choose to ignore it.

  • I would guesstimate the "bar" is about an eight entering earnings season. That doesn't mean we can't clear the hurdle, it just means the margin for missteps is thin.

  • With foreclosure filings having the "worst three months of all-time" -- and the market 60% higher in seven months -- the words "perception" and "reality" come to mind.

  • Speaking of the second debt bubble, Minyan Papa Doc brought this clock to my attention.

  • I've got a handful of positions, albeit smaller than usual as a function of my recently incessant travel schedule. While many are the usual suspects, they're set up through the lens of positive gamma.

  • One week does not a market make but I'm watching Goldman (GS) 1) through the lens of the reaction to news and 2) with an eye towards the insider sales window that typically opens a few days after they report earnings.

  • On that topic, the Frank Rich Op-Ed in the New York Times was worthy reading.

  • Last year, I offered that inflation via a lower dollar could be the end-game as the path of maximum frustration would likely punish the savers before the crisis fully passed. While that is seemingly playing out, I'm on alert for a higher dollar in the near-term, which would have negative implications for asset classes of all shapes and sizes.

  • Google (GOOG), Bank America (BAC) and General Electric (GE) remain on my radar through the lens of the reaction to news being more important than the news itself.

  • There hasn't been much joy in Mudville this NFL season but yesterday's Raider victory over the Eagles put some pep in my step. No high stepping here, it's just good to see that the silver and black with some heart and pride.

  • Finally -- with a nod to the important stuff -- the doors to our 2009 Festivus are officially open! This is our annual shindig to bring the Minyanville community together in the name of children's education. The only thing better than giving back is doing so while having a ton of fun and if the past is a prologue, there will be alotta love in NYC on December 4th. Come one, come all and come on -- It's for the kids!


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